NEW! Intimate Connections

Take Our Current Survey

Three Things Survey

Answer a quick question about what you would like to have more of in your marriage

Popular Series

Click the arrow to show/hide series

Search Journey to Surrender

Blog Archive

Monday, February 22, 2010
It’s a common question when it comes to the discussion about Christian marriage: “Why does the man have to be the leader?”  This is often followed by, “Can’t marriage just be an equal partnership?”

If you missed my post on The Myth of Equality, you’ll already know my answer to the second question. Equality is just the wrong question.

The issue of authority in marriage is a contentious one, full of strong emotion leading sometimes to caustic arguments. But that’s no reason to abandon or avoid it. There are many biblical principles that equally fly in the face of the cultural norm. Face it, much in the kingdom of God is upside down from popular convention.

As a Christian who believes in the Word of God, I can’t avoid the fact that the Ephesians 5 undeniably states that ”the husband is the head of the wife.” Importantly, it goes on to add, “as Christ is the head of the church.” This statement follows Paul’s instruction to wives to submit to their husbands.  Further, and most significantly, when Paul turns to instructing husbands he says nothing about their authority. Instead, he says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” 

Simply put, love and sacrifice are how the husband’s authority is to be walked out. Should any wife have a problem with that kind of authority? The real problem is not with having an authority structure in the home; the real problem is whether or not we have the right authority paradigm: Jesus.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”     Matthew 20:25-28
Let me make a few other brief points concerning authority.

  • We can see in the Trinity how it is possible for authority and equality to coexist. For example, Jesus clearly walked in submission to the Father, even to the point where he said his very food was to do the will of the Father. Yet Jesus is fully God and an equal part of the Trinity. 
  • The authority that is granted to a husband comes from God and not from himself. Only by walking in complete submission to God is it possible for that authority be walked out in accordance with God’s will (as it was with Jesus). It is God who is the source of the very love that a husband is commanded to pour out on his wife.
  • Many attempt to refute a husband’s headship using the fact that at the time of Paul’s writings women were widely seen more as property than persons. In raising this point, they say we should therefore disregard what the Bible says on the topic of authority in marriage. The problem with this argument is that Paul flatly blows open the “women as property” viewpoint when he instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, giving himself completely for her. Clearly Paul didn’t buy into the cultural norm of his day, so it makes no sense to apply that argument against his statements on headship. 
  • It is apparent and logical that any organism or organization functions best with a single head. We’ve all seen how government by committee is ineffective, inefficient and unstable. Someone needs to be in charge, and in the case of marriage, God has placed that responsibility and authority on husbands. 
  • In business, the best leaders are not necessarily the most knowledgeable or the most skilled in every area. The best leaders want people around them who are better than they are and can leverage the skills and talents of those around them to the advantage of the organization. There is no implication in Ephesians 5 that ability has anything to do with authority in marriage.
Let me know what you think.  I'd love you to comment with your thoughts.

Next time: What people really mean when they ask, “Can’t marriage be an equal partnership?”


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

We Have Moved!

Journey to Surrender
is now

Stay here if you want to search old content.

Click on over if you want to see the latest and greatest!

Connect With Us

Subscribe by email and never miss a post!

New subscribers will receive a free copy of my ebook :

How to Have a Succ-Sex-Full Marriage

My new Heaven Made Marriage Facebook page has lots of extra marriage-related stuff not found on my blog.

Follow Journey to Surrender on Twitter: @marriagejourney.

Subscribe via

Member of:
Christian Marriage Bloggers Association Members Badge

Contributing Writer: